Weaning Before 6 Months—Is It Safe?

The Department of Health recommends you wait until 6 months to introduce your baby to solids. But plenty mums do it before—is it safe?

Asian baby boy eating blend food on a high chair

The reasoning behind the 6-month mark recommendation is down to digestive maturity, as well as adequate motor control; both of which, on average, infants tend to acquire at around six months of age. Of course, not every child follows the same developmental schedule—which is why the DoH’s advice is a guideline, not a rule.

Science actually backs up the benefit of earlier weaning—in a 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal; provided the child is ready. Further research from 2018 corroborates the findings.

That being said, the idea of an absolute minimum safe age for solids is unanimous amongst experts—before 17 weeks is considered a no-go.

Health visitor Dawn Kelly advises consulting medical professionals if you’re thinking about early weaning—“But never introduce solids before 17 weeks.”

According to a madeformums poll, just 40% of parents wait until 6 months to break out the purées; 26% start at four months, while 28% begin at 5 months.

When you choose to start should always be based on your baby’s developmental readiness. Proper neck and head control, being able to sit up unaided, and being able to grasp and move objects towards the mouth are key skills.

You should also know that certain things do not indicate your little one is ready to join in on your meals:

  • Chewing fingers and toys (it’s just an exploration thing)
  • Sudden night-waking (barring illness, it’s usually a developmental thing)
  • Wanting more feeds (this is natural, and is part of growth spurts; milk is still what your baby’s body requires at this stage, not solids—remember anyway that before one year of age, food is mostly about texture and taste learning, not caloric benefit).

Via Madeformums